Disney says Del Toro to direct ‘Haunted Mansion’

Comic_con_logo_boffo by Peter Debruge

Yawns for “Tron” (which looks plenty cool but isn’t riveting enough conversation material to fill an hour-long Comic-Con panel, even with funny guy Patton Oswalt as M.C.), but big cheers for the two surprises Disney sprung on the crowd immediately after…

First, a special 3D message from Jack Sparrow himself, with Johnny Depp pretending to get sloshed as he describes his next mission: to find the Fountain of Youth. Evidently, we can expect zombie battles, mermaid seduction and another impossible-to-remember subtitle (“On Stranger Tides”). Oh, and Penelope Cruz.

As if that weren’t enough, Disney saved big news of another theme-park remake for the Con, announcing a “Haunted Mansion” reboot overseen by Guillermo del Toro. “We are not returning Eddie Murphy’s calls, ” del Toro deadpanned. “And we are not making a comedy. If you take the children, they will scream. We want that to happen. It’s a litmus test of character.”

According to del Toro (who consciously had to tone down his usually expletive-laden language for the Disney crowd), the Haunted Mansion ride is “sacred ground.” The director claimed to have visited the ride at least once a year since first discovering it as a kid and hopes to reclaim its appeal by making “the haunted house movie a generation loves and remembers.”

The director plans to do the film in live-action 3D, resurrecting the short-lived “Hat Box Ghost” character as his entry point. “This is a dream come true,” del Toro said, “and I hope to steal as many props as possible.”